The role of enslaved women on the British West Indian Sugar Plantation

2224 words 9 pages
TOPIC: What was the role of enslaved women on the British West Indian Sugar Plantation?

In history women have been often perceived as useless and inadequate. This assessment is to highlight the role of enslaved women who resided and worked on the sugar plantations in the British West Indian islands before the abolition of slavery. In order to effectively understand the enslaved women’s role and situation, their social and economic states have to be taken into consideration.

In the British Caribbean, the enslaved women were very important in the production on the plantation. It must be noted that although reproduction
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They grew their own food which the planters saw as a way to lessen the cost of slave maintenance and helping them to save a lot of money.
On their free day which was generally Sunday, mainly enslaved women took their produce to the market and sold it. In addition to ground provisions, some sold handicrafts and poultry at the market.
In the British slave society, the domestic slaves were believed to be of a higher social status than those in the fields. The domestic slaves mainly consisted of coloured and locally born (Creole) enslaved women in the British sugar plantation society. These women considered working in the Great House1 as a luxury and there not make a mistake or they were usually punished by working the fields. Barry Higman rightfully stated the slave status:
Historically, the low status attributed to time the “house-servant” was said to rank high in the social scale, with a relative advantage in material terms throughout the period of slavery and down to about 1850… Deterioration in the social status of the servant occurred when domestic service became the most common form of employment for women (replacing agriculture), when the women employed became predominantly black rather than coloured.
Hilary Beckles deemed that ‘slave women achieved their highest status and greatest socio-economic rewards through household occupations’. The


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